Movie Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

Zzzz.  Zzzz.  Zzzz.

That’s my impression of myself sleeping through this boring poopfest.

Sigh, let’s get it over with.  BQB here with a review of Alien: Covenant.

Does Ridley Scott even make movies for the audience anymore?  Sometimes I think they might just be for his own philosophical, navel gazing purposes.

In the original Alien (1979) we saw Sigourney Weaver play space traveler Ripley, taking out aliens with a flamethrower.  Flash forward 38 years and we’ve got friggin melancholy androids waxing poetic about their feelings and beside themselves with ennui.

The first few Alien films were great because they were essentially horror films set in space.  In fact, I caught a clip of an interview recently where Scott said something to the effect that the first film was essentially setting up a haunted house in the form of a spaceship, turning a monster lose in the form of an alien and seeing who makes it out alive.

Alas, now we get films that you practically have to be a philosophy major to understand.

Ironically, 2012’s Prometheus was panned by the critics, arguing it was heavy on the thinking and light on the action.  Personally, I liked it and the questions it asked about the universe, creation, the meaning of life, our place and purpose and so on.

However, I had hoped this film would be a return to form (i.e. give us someone else to shoot a flame thrower at those damn aliens) but sadly, no.  More navel gazing.

In this go around, a ship named the Covenant carries a crew full of colonists in search of a new home world.  They land on what they hope will be their new home but…blah blah blah, they become lunch instead.

Sure, the xenomorphs are given free reign to snack on the humans.  However, most of the human vs. alien scenes are predictable if you’ve ever seen any of the previous films.

Bottomline:  if you see a dude coughing, you know an alien’s going to pop out of his chest and start attacking everyone.  If you see a dude look into a dark hole with a dumb look on his face, you know that face is about to get sucked on by a face sucker.

Those aren’t spoilers.  Those are tried and true Alien franchise rules that have been in effect since the Carter administration.

Michael Fassbender brings a certain level of coolness by playing dueling androids David and Walter, a pair of synthetics who have opposing viewpoints about…well, just go watch it.

For the most part, it’s an ensemble cast, mostly filled with newcomers and no-names.  Funnyman Danny McBride puts on his serious face as the crew’s pilot, but I keep expecting him to break out into his Kenny Powers persona and whip out his junk, drink a beer and burp or do something else hysterically outrageous.  Spoiler alert: he doesn’t, so we can only assume that Danny is trying to expand on his range as a thespian.  He does well, though I hope this doesn’t mean an end is coming to his Kenny Powers-ian style characters in the future.

Billy Crudup plays Captain Oram, a by the book dweeb disliked by his crew.  We’re lead to think that angle might go somewhere but it doesn’t and ultimately, it’s such a large cast filled with either unrecognizable (never saw them in anything) or vaguely recognizable (I know I’ve seen that face in another film but I have no idea who they are) that none of the characters really get enough screen time to grow, develop, or even become moderately interesting.

If there is a new age Ripley in the movie, it’s Katherine Waterston’s Daniels, a crew member who, umm, uhh…yeah we don’t get to learn much because again, she’s one of a much too large cast.  But she has some great scenes where she kicks ass and saves a day and so on.

I really think Scott has to go to his room and think about what he has done and what the future of this franchise should be.  Should he return to its “haunted house in space” origins?  Tempting but difficult, seeing as how, as stated above, the rules about how these aliens attack have been well known since 1979 so we can spot them coming from a mile away.

Should the franchise continue to expand upon the philosophical “Why are we here?” type questions?  Possibly, though frankly, I spend most of my time trying to distract myself from the fact that I’m little more than a tiny, insignificant little gnat stuck to the giant, overreaching windshield of the space-time continuum, so I really don’t need a pair of depressed, ennui laden, morose androids reminding me.

Plotwise, it’s all kind of slapped together and relies on you remembering what happened in Prometheus, which is unrealistic because I can’t remember where I left my car keys half the time.  (Wait, let me check the fridge.)

Scott does increase the alien attacks over the last film.  But he also continues the philosophical hullaballoo so it seems like he was confused as to whether he wanted a thriller or a thinker, so he tried for both and in the end, scored neither.

I will give the film this.  The scenes where Michael Fassbender plays two different versions of himself are great and the technology that can allow an actor to do this has really come a long way.

Otherwise, hold your nose because it’s a big stink-a-roo.

STATUS:  I hate to do this.  I don’t want to do this.  Ridley Scott, why are you making me do this?  It’s not shelf-worthy.  There, I said it.  And that’s not fair, because I have given shittier films shelf-worthy status because I’m a nice guy and I don’t want to be rude but you know, I expected less from those films and more from this one.  I really thought this would be good but at best, it was blah.  It’s worth a rental but don’t rush out to the theater for it.

I think this might be a sign of what we can only hope will be the end of Hollywood’s never-ending sequel/prequel/reboot obsession.  There’s only so many ways to spice up and reheat leftovers before they congeal into a big pile of crap.  Sometimes the pizza tastes good the first time and even better cold but then after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh return to that box buried in the dark corner of the fridge, the pieces begin to taste stale and dry and hey, is that mold growing on my 38 year old pizza?  Whodathunkit?

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

  1. aw man. I had vague hopes about this. Alien and Aliens are classics. Even Alien 4 was watchable. sigh

    • You mean Alien Resurrection with Ron Pearlman in the late 1990s where Sigourney Weaver is brought back to life? I liked that one too.

      The only other lousy Alien movie is Alien vs. Predator 2 which came across to me like an episode of Scooby Doo with a bunch of kids trying to figure out whats going on while the Aliens and Predators are fighting.

      After sleeping on it, I wondered if I was too hard on it and…I mean its worth a rental as there are some cool scenes but in general the critics seem to agree that it recycled a lot from Prometheus and tried to satisfy the Prometheus critics by adding more alien attacks. Fassbender vs. Fassbender is pretty cool though.

      Oddly, I think I was the only one who liked Prometheus.

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